Iran to reopen embassy in Saudi Arabia after seven years

The move comes in accordance with a China-brokered agreement between Tehran and Riyadh.

Combination photo of the Iran and Saudi Arabia flags
The two regional powerhouses have been steadily reducing tensions in recent months [File: Joe Klamar and Ozan Kose/AFP]

Tehran, Iran – Iran has confirmed it will reopen its embassy in Saudi Arabia this week, seven years after it was closed due to a diplomatic rift.

In a short statement on Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said Tehran’s embassy in Riyadh will be reopened on Tuesday, followed by the reopening of its consulate in Jeddah and its representative office with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation a day later.

He said the embassy and the consulate had already started operating to facilitate pilgrimages for the Hajj and now they will “be officially reopened in the presence of the two countries’ foreign ministry officials”.

The move comes in accordance with a China-brokered agreement that Iran and Saudi Arabia signed in Beijing on March 10, which set a deadline of two months to reopen embassies.

Iranian authorities have since said the embassies had begun carrying out some practical work but needed more time to officially reopen because the buildings had been closed for years.

There is still no official confirmation on when the Saudi embassy in Tehran or the kingdom’s consulate in Mashhad will officially reopen or who its ambassador will be.

Tehran has selected Alireza Enayati, a former envoy to Kuwait and a foreign ministry deputy for regional affairs, as its envoy to Riyadh, Iranian state-linked media reported last month.

Riyadh cut diplomatic relations with Tehran in 2016 after its representative offices were stormed during demonstrations to protest against the execution of a Shia religious leader by the Sunni-majority kingdom.

The two regional powerhouses have been steadily reducing tensions in recent months, something they have said will help bolster security across the region.

Since the agreement in March, countries in the region have also followed Saudi Arabia’s lead towards normalising relations with Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad, whom they had ostracised after his bloody crackdown on 2011 protests that resulted in a decade-long civil war.

Saudi Arabia has also increasingly engaged with the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen, where Riyadh and Tehran have backed opposing sides in the country’s civil war since 2015.

Source: Al Jazeera